Star Wars Resistance: 10 Reasons Every Star Wars Fan Needs To See It

Placed in a very new era of Star Wars, Star Wars Resistance is the third animated series to tell untold stories of our favorite galaxy far, far away.

Reason 1: Dave Filoni Is A Jedi Master At Storytelling

Dave Filoni has earned my trust as a storyteller. He never ceases to intrigue me, surprise me, and leave me feeling as though I have been fed a rich and fantastic meal, even though the “cuisine” varies for every show.

swtcw

The Clone Wars was heavy with layers, awesome in the moment but also bearing the weight of the impending collapse of the Jedi Order/Republic and the rise of the Empire. We feel the clock ticking down in every episode as heroes and villains battle for dominance in the dying sun of an era.

The Clone Wars gave the Prequels a greater sense of purpose and meaning, and it taught us that even the battles that are lost in the moment still matter and pave the way for future victories.

rebels

Star Wars Rebels (my personal favorite) carried on the tradition with a much simpler approach to the story. We had a smaller cast of characters but got to go far deeper into the intimate familial relationships they created. The character development was gorgeous.

Threads that had begun in the Clone War era were woven into this raw and gritty Rebel world with the deft hand of a master weaver. Season 4 of Rebels contained some of the most breathtaking Star Wars storytelling and lore I have ever seen in my life.

Hope is the key theme of this series and it was fully respected. I ended the show in tearful wonder.

Each of these stories has the potential to merely be a copy of its predecessor show(s), and certainly mirroring scenes, as well as crossover storylines/characters, are used to each story’s advantage.

But Dave always makes something entirely new while maintaining the same heart in all of his work. It’s a delight to see each new thing created by this man because he has a gift.

Reason 2: Star Wars Resistance Will Only Have 2 Seasons

I do really enjoy this show, so I am sure that when the final credits roll I will feel some sadness about it ending. However, only 2 seasons means that they have a plan and they know where they are going to wrap up the story beautifully. 

I will take 2 well-written, well-crafted seasons over Season after Season that gets watered down and wanders as the writers drift into apathy and unnecessary, trumped-up romantic drama. Or aliens.

Then again, this is Star Wars, so aliens wouldn’t really stand out that much.

Reason 3: The Timeline Is Current To Our Sequel Trilogy.

Season 1 begins 6 months before the events of The Force Awakens and ends on a cliffhanger during the events at the end of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

It’s so neat to be experiencing a show that is in “real-time” with the movies we are currently enjoying. Filoni has connected the show with the movie story so perfectly.

You know what happens in The Force Awakens, this is the story leading up to that story. We get a delightful peek into the build-up and behind-the-scenes of The First Order, The Resistance, and some of the chief characters who are at the center of these dramatic events.

kazua and the resistance

The new season will serve as a bridge story that takes place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.  “The final season of Resistance takes place during The Last Jedi and leading up to the events of The Rise of Skywalker,” a Disney rep said. “With the movie coming up in December, this was a natural place to end the show with an epic finale.”

Reason 4: Kazuda Xiono Is Truly the Most Unlikely Hero For the Main Character

Our previous show MC’s were both Jedi proteges, Ahsoka Tano, and Ezra Bridger. Both of those characters were very intuitive, had street smarts and raw skills that gave them a leg up on their journey to becoming some of the most powerful characters we’ve ever met.

The movie MC’s have also been “Chosen One” levels of awesome.

And Kazuda? Well…he’s a…” good person”.

kazuda closeup

This kid could choke on the air without breaking a sweat. He essentially does half of the time. You’d think that would be annoying but in actuality…

He’s kind of crazy adorable.

Kazuda Xiono is the son of a wealthy senator in the New Republic on Hosnian Prime. He grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and was trained by the best in the New Republic Navy.

He is an incredibly skilled pilot, but he didn’t gain any real-life skills until a mission to deliver a message to the Resistance put him in the direct path of none other than Poe Dameron.

poe and kazuda

Poe sees something in Kaz, a spark of potential that he is willing to blow into a flame.

Kaz leaves everything he knows overnight to be stationed on a remote oil platform and spy on behalf of the Resistance, gaining intel about the platform and potential First Order involvement.

And he’s terrible at it…for a while.

kazuda awkward

This kid has no practical skills, no idea what anything costs or is worth, and is about as low-key as a town parade. Why on earth did Poe choose him to be a spy?

The greatest gift of this show (and there are many) is watching Kaz grow and succeed against all odds, even against himself.

His determination to not let Poe down, as well as his genuine love and concern for the people around him, transforms this awkward and messy kid into a brave leader. By the end of Season 1, we too see what Poe saw within Kaz.

kazuda getting serious

The New Era of Star Wars is all about the idea that anyone can make a difference, whether you are a stormtrooper, a scavenger, or a spoiled rich kid with a heart that’s often bigger than your brain. Resistance emphasizes this concept in a very visual way with the character of Kaz. It’s deeply encouraging.

Reason 5: Poe Dameron

Oscar Isaac is the most believable voice role I have ever heard in my life. If you have not gotten enough of a Poe Dameron fix from the movies then watch this show!

poe

Poe carries himself with the same lazy grace and daring decision making as he does in the movies. He’s 100% the Poe of the big screen, even down to his “selective hearing” when it comes to General Organa’s orders.

Oh yes, that makes for a purely delicious episode.

These flaws and tension in regards to his character add to the realism. To Kaz, he’s a hero and a mentor. But Poe still has room for growth, as we all do.

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Poe shows up quite a few times throughout this series, and some of my favorite episodes include the ones where he and Kaz go on “missions” together. They are the kinds of episodes that, while still moving the story forward, are made by a fan for the fans who want to have a good time.

And any moment when Poe is on screen he is giving you a good time.

poe on mission

The Poe and BB-8 love is as strong as ever, which leads me to my next Reason.

Reason 6: BB-8

To me, BB-8 is the best thing since sliced bread.

kaz and bb8

Every Star Wars story is marked by a remarkable droid. The Sequel Era is truly BB-8’s domain, and like every other droid in every other story, BB-8 essentially keeps everyone alive all the time.

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We get to see even more of his quick wits and antics, and as well as a hint of droid romance that just delighted my soul. How is it possible to love a little metal sphere this much?

bb8 and his girl

Reason 7: The World Is Fascinating

The Colossus is an oil platform in the Outer Rim. It’s a very self-contained and yet colorful world. This rig runs on an “everyone in their place” system that is both orderly and also confining to many of the characters.

the market resistance

The Colossus only works if everyone does their job, which makes for a sense of community that is hugely important for various parts of the show.

resistance oil platform

The most exciting aspect of this world is the regular sky races and the team of crack pilots known as “the aces”. They are the local celebrities as well as the protection force called upon when pirates attack. It’s a distinct culture where skilled pilots with good equipment sit at the top of the food chain.

oil platform

There are the local regulars who add flavor and spice to the story.

Still, the constant threat of pirates and the regular visits from First Order officers remind the characters that they are not as “remote” and “safe” as they would like to believe.

the parts store resistance.jpg

This world is distinctly Star Wars without having any visible connection to The Force, the planets/systems we are more familiar with, or any Force-sensitive characters.

It’s exotic, it’s full of unique species and people, it has its local heroes and villains. It has its “monsters”, local politics, and time-honored traditions.

The animation is b-r-e-a-t-h-t-a-k-i-n-g.

We’ve stopped off at places like this before in Star Wars stories, but never have we set up shop in one. The setting is a delightful treat.

the races resistance

Reason 8: The First Order Is An Unkown

As an audience, our first introduction to The First Order came through the eyes of characters who knew their threat well.

Finn fled its cruel tyranny. Poe was teething and fighting The First Order at the same time. Leia has been at war with these kinds of baddies her entire life, she was literally birthed at the beginning of the struggle. Rey was introduced to them via surprise air raid.

first order jerks

But the characters of Resistance? To them, The First Order is unknown.

Is it the oppressive Empire all over again? Is it a vague and irritating shadow? If we just mind our own business the First Order will surely mind theirs…right? What if they are actually here to help us?

It is a neat perspective to see how different characters view TFO and how the unfolding story affects them. Off-hand comments and lightly expressed perspectives suddenly gain intensity and weight as life gets more serious.

As the season builds towards the climax, the audience sees the stars aligning to the well-known events of The Force Awakens and the tragedies that are unsuspecting characters are in for. If only we could warn them.

It’s painful to see the places where ignorance and deception in regards to The First Order’s villainy lead characters into places of loss and heartache.

The First Order

Reason 9: Responsibility, Discovery, Redemption Tragedy, and Betrayal Take It To the Next Level

kazuda spy

Dave Filoni lulls us into a false sense of security with Resistance. He uses a much lighter touch with these characters as well as a more relaxed and goofy sense of humor. This is certainly the most “kid-friendly” series he’s made thus far.

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But do not let that light touch fool you, this show tells a compelling story that brings many characters on a journey with real themes. Some things will lift your spirits, other things will break your heart.

kaz and yeager

There is redemption. There is growth. There is deception. There is betrayal. There is loss. There is triumph.

It. Gets. Real.

hosnian prime gone

Reason 10: We Ended On A Cliffhanger Heading Into Uncharted Story Territory

For once we don’t know everything that’s going to happen next, just like our characters.

We know what more of what they are capable of and where they still need to grow. Our characters have surprised us and taken us on a journey.

But starting Season 2, we all know their biggest battles are yet to come.

It’s not the longest Star Wars ride we’ve ever been offered, but it’s a good one.

commander oil platform

There are still unanswered questions, looming threats, and broken hearts.

Star Wars of any era carries that golden quality that sets the really good stories apart from the mediocre ones.

It’s constantly showing us a reflection of our real world and our real stories.

This reflection just happens to take place in a galaxy far, far away.

the bowels of the oil platform

Star Wars Resistance returns on October 6, 2019, on Disney XD. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thor 4, Why I Don’t Want It

Yesterday it was announced that Taika Wahiti (Thor: Ragnarok) would be directing the fourth installment of the Thor movies, starring Chris Hemsworth…

…wait, the fourth installment??? Did we actually ask for a Thor 4?

Without a doubt, there are going to be fans who are excited about this. Not all fans feel negative about the road Thor’s character has taken. Those fans are having a really great day right now, and I do not begrudge them that.

(Y’all, if Captain America 4 were ever announced you would hear me give the squeal heard around the world, so I get it).

I, however, am not at all pleased with where Thor ended up when the credits rolled in Endgame.

Please, stop disrespecting Thor even more than you already have.

I was a fan of the first two Thor movies. His first film was actually my introduction into the MCU and I loved it, I loved him.

angry thor

His transformation from Grade A royal jerk to a compassionate hero was lovely. I liked him and Jane together. I loved how powerful he was. I thoroughly enjoyed his involvement in both The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Ragnarok was a deep disappointment to me. To drastically change the tone of Thor’s storytelling and practically obliterate all ties to his earlier movies on the third installment of his series was awful to me. It felt like someone had accidentally picked up a Guardians of the Galaxy script and a “Thor” movie was made instead.

That being said, even I can admit that Ragnarok was a proper continuation of Thor’s character arc. Ragnarok pushed Thor to a place that 4 previous movies hadn’t been able to get him yet.

Thor became the king.

It was a nice arc and Ragnarok was a vital part of that.

thor background.jpg

Thor: He learns what truly makes a hero, he learns humility and kindness. He uses his might to protect rather than ravage. He begins to have an appreciation for humans. He learns what worthiness actually is as he becomes worthy of the hammer. It’s glorious.

The Avengers: He grows beyond just an almost patronizing appreciation “I must protect these infants” for humans and learns to see them as comrades and equals. He joins a team rather than fighting alone. He chooses what is right over family loyalty.

Thor 2: Again, he chooses what is right over family loyalty. His father is an idiot, Thor goes against his father and commits treason because it is right. He chooses to love someone even though it may devastate him later on. And he chooses to be honest with his father about his lack of desire to be king.

thor and his father

Age of Ultron: Thor sees the beginning pieces of Thanos’ plan as well as the future of Ragnarok. This sets him off on a journey of discovery across the cosmos and sets a lot of things in motion.

thors vision

Ragnorok: Through the exposure of Loki’s deception, Odin’s death, and Hela’s unleashing on Asgard, Thor has to finally step up to the plate to become who he was born to be.

thor gladiator

He loses everything, his father, his hammer, and his dignity as he is reduced to being a gladiator for sport. It’s a lot of hits at once. He feels very low but he refuses to give in to grief as his desire to take care of his people and do right by them is stronger. #hero

Against all odds, Thor makes it back to Asgard where has to fight his sister, the goddess of death, without his hammer. He is mighty but at this moment she is mightier. Until he ends up in a vision where his father reveals the truth, “Are you Thor, the god of hammers? The hammer was only to help you channel your power.” And the final bit of encouragement that we have all known about Odin and Thor, “I’m not as strong as you.” “No, you’re stronger.”

Next up is the most epic takedown and my favorite part of Ragnorok (THIS IS THOR) where the god of Thunder blasts his sister and her armies with his lightning because THAT’S who he is!

Ragnarok ends where Thor has to allow the destruction of Asgard in order to save the true heart of Asgard, his people.

He is down one eye but looks very regal and handsome as he is crowned king and takes his “throne” aboard a borrowed ship among the surviving Asgardians and a ragtag group of friends. His brother is at his side once more and we hear the same coronation music we began this journey with back in 2011. It was really, really nice.

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  • Thor had to gain humility and perspective before he was ready to be king.
  • His knowledge of the greater universe enabled him to be exactly what Asgard needed when they needed him most. Odin could never have been what Thor is.
  • He forgave Loki and paved the way for them to rejoin as brothers and friends.
  • He brought Valkyrie back from her drunken despair and gave her purpose.
  • He saved Bruce and destroyed Hela.
  • He had to grow beyond the hammer and he did an awesome job. And it was THEN and only then, after all of this learning and connecting with other people that he became the king he was born to be.

Infinity War: Enter, Thanos. Thanos never played fair, so, I don’t blame Thor for any of this mess. To me, the Thor of Infinity War was the most glorious Thor I have ever seen. He was the perfect combination of all that he had been and all that he was becoming. He WAS the god of Thunder, his arrival on the field of battle in Wakanda is one of my top 3 moments in that movie.

infinity war thor

Thor still made mistakes (GO FOR THE HEAD) as did all of our heroes. And I knew Thor needed to have a meltdown at some point. You cannot lose literally everything and never break down.

Endgame: Thor tries to defeat Thanos, and while he does kill him, the damage done by that Purple Abomination cannot be undone. So Thor disappears into New Asgard and becomes a drunken pile of a depressed man.

chunky thor

Believe it or not, I was actually pleased with this. I needed Thor to be human enough to fall apart after all of the hellish things he’d been through. I felt that this was appropriate, all the more so for how handsome and grand he is. That beer belly didn’t bother me, the tears in his eyes just made me ache more.

Thor is brought back into the action by his friends who still believe in him. He contributes what he can to the plan, and then he goes back in time with Rocket (love this pairing) to the day his mother died in order to retrieve the Reality Stone.

I loved this part. I felt like it restored some of the first two Thor movies to us.

Thor is totally falling apart, and Rocket has to be the one to save the day. #thisracoongetsitdone

Oh! But that scene with Thor’s beautiful mother, Frigga! I loved, loved, LOVED that scene! I have always felt that she was an underused character, a rich well of untapped potential. Odin was a mostly rotten father, but Frigga? What a mother!

thor and his mother

Thor needs his mama, that great and mighty god of Thunder who has fallen so low just needed his mama to look into his eyes and actually see him.

He needed her to gently brush back his matted hair as if he’s still arrayed in royal robes and love him as only a mother can. She listened. She encouraged. She blessed him, and she told him with so much love and compassion to eat a salad. It was such a gift, that scene.

And that moment gave Thor the courage to face the final conflict against Thanos. He is still worthy, Mjolnir still comes to him. It’s a beautiful moment of encouragement for anyone who has ever faced grief and depression.

thor depression

He fights the battle well and we see once more, the god of Thunder is still with us.

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Thor is among the victorious Avengers who are still standing when the dust settles *sobs* and he returns to his people in New Asgard to begin a new life as their king. He’s been humbled and is raw, but he is still a worthy hero and he deserves a second chance, what a triumph…

…oh wait, no, he actually decides to become a homeless man and go traipsing around space with the Guardians?!?!

He leaves New Asgard in the hands of Valkyrie whom we have only known for a movie and a half? Didn’t he already give up a chance to be king once before, only to take the throne in Ragnarok because he was finally ready???

You mean to tell me that I just went through 6+ movies of bringing Thor to this incredible place of a complete arc where he actually became his own kind of king despite every obstacle —only to have him be treated like some half-eaten leftovers that the filmmakers wanted to put in the freezer to reheat later???

Thor + Starlord for about 5 minutes = funny.

Thor + Starlord for a long time = disrespecting both characters.

thor and starlord

Starlord was already given a raw deal in both Infinity War and Endgame. He was treated like a laughingstock and idiot. Is he sometimes an idiot? Absolutely. Has he been through horrible things and grown immensely as a character and made grown-up/mature/hard decisions on behalf of other people? YES! WATCH HIS DADGUM MOVIES! He’s saved the Galaxy twice!

And Thor, Thor is funny, but he is NOT a laughingstock! Stop it!

Both of these characters deserve to be worth more than just a laugh.

And as for Thor 4?

If Thor had actually made the harder choice to go back to New Asgard, face his people in humility, and try again, I would actually be looking forward to Thor 4. I am curious about this New Asgard, how the Asgardians and the humans interact.

Thor has almost become a child of two realms, Earth and Asgard, he would make a neat king. Would he find someone new to love? Would some more of those “ancient enemies” that the Asgardians seem to have a cabinetful of show up and we could see an awesome alliance of Asgardians and Norwegian fisherman against Said Ancient Foes? What is living in New Asgard like in 2023?

Thor’s choice in the final moments of Endgame was not only out of character for him, it pretty much stabbed in the back a beautiful character arc that has been in the works for 6+ movies.

I was so, so, so disappointed. Thor is one of the Big 3, both Steve and Tony had stunningly gorgeous arcs that ended appropriately for their characters. And Thor was left as a homeless man.

the big three endgame

Dear Marvel, I don’t know if you are trying to replicate the success of Ragnarok or what, but I sincerely doubt that’s ever going to happen. Too many people are disappointed, too much has happened. Let a dead thing lie, don’t try to stir it up again.

Marvel is more than welcome to prove me wrong, I wish nothing but the best for the people involved in this film. I’m not a crazed jerk who starts uttering death threats just because I don’t want a movie.

I just cannot fathom why Thor 4 would be their first choice when we have so many other, fresher characters to work with. You think Thor (who is a strung-out character) is a good use of your resources when you are literally the top dog right now???

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#yesijustwantedtousethisgif #youwouldtoo

I have to wait on another Ant-Man and the Wasp but you have time for Thor 4???

For the first time in my life, I don’t want another Marvel movie.

So, are you #TeamThor4 or are you #NoMoreThor? What do you think the next installment will be about? Were you excited to hear about Thor potentially joining the Guardians? I’d love to hear any and all opinions.

 

 

Aladdin

One Jump Ahead

“Riffraff,” “Street rat”
I don’t buy that
If only they’d look closer
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree
They’d find out
There’s so much more to me…

Speechless

Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder…

…I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless

To be heard.

To be seen.

To be known.

This, my friends, was the purpose of Aladdin.

I want to discuss a few scenes that stood out to me as hugely important for the story, but even more than that, they rang true for the world we live in.

Scene 1: Aladdin giving up his dates for the starving boy. Aladdin intervening on Jasmine’s behalf in the marketplace. Aladdin saving the girl from being trampled by Prince Ander’s entourage.

A combination of many small moments that clearly define Aladdin’s heart. He is a colorful character with large helpings of mischief and insecurities, but there is one overwhelming fact about who he is.

Aladdin is a prince

He is the diamond in the rough. Aladdin essentially lives hand to mouth, but he is not completely self-focused. He sees the needs of those around him and intervenes on their behalf.

It is this heart that wins Jasmine over. She’s seen enough glittery people to last a lifetime, what she longs for is substance. She finds substance in this street boy with a big smile and kind eyes.

Substance over style. Style fades, substance grows.

Scene 2: The Best First Date Ever

Likely the most iconic Aladdin scene in existence, the magic carpet ride where Jasmine and Aladdin get a chance to connect is beautiful.

In the animated movie, we see our two lovebirds fly around well known worldwide landmarks such as the Sphinx in Egypt or the Great Wall of China.

In this version, the landscape is far less defined or varied. I believe this was done for the purpose of enabling the audience to focus in more on the two people in the scene and their intentional interaction with each other.

One moment Jasmine is holding onto Aladdin’s arm as he makes a steep turn, another moment he’s handing her the “reins” so she can have a turn flying. They are singing together, he’s looking at her with pure delight because of her joyful response. She is enthralled with the opportunity he has given her to be 100% herself at this moment.

He loves conversing with her and he wants to hear what she has to say.

She SEES him. He HEARS her Aladdin

They communicate.

You can see the power created by these two. Aladdin’s life experience and mingled with Jasmine’s authority and education make them the perfect couple to lead Agrabah into the future. They share a similar heart that points them both in the same direction.

So many people are struggling with communication. So many people are involved in power struggles with one another that not only cause them harm, but also those around them who depend upon them.

Jasmine and Aladdin struggle, just like anyone else, but they persevere, and when the credits roll they have reached a strong place of connection.

Jaladdin communicating

Scene 3: Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar. Jasmine’s almost wedding to Jafar.

The new song “Speechless” is one that brought tears to my eyes. We need to be paying attention right here. The two cultures represented in this fictional world are the Arab/Middle Eastern culture, and the Indian culture. Jasmine represents both.

These two cultures are among the worst in the world for how horribly they abuse and oppress their women. Many Middle Eastern women are wrapped up from head to toe, they cannot drive, they cannot be educated, they cannot work, they cannot even go places without a male escort.

They are not to be seen and certainly not to be heard! Women are treated like despised objects or pretty toys to be used on a whim.

*This may not be the case for every woman or family in these countries, it is not in any way my intention to claim that or disrespect those who are from these places but not living this way. But the injustice I speak of is a true reality for millions, and we need to be willing to stand up and acknowledge that without fear of “offending” someone. These women deserve more courageous actions on their behalf.

In India, millions of women have been downtrodden for centuries. Many of the old traditions are harsh on women. If a woman cannot produce children (which is often the result of abuse or malnutrition), she is often scorned and abused by either her husband and or her in-laws. Women fear to walk to someplace as necessary as the village well for fear of being raped or murdered on the way. Oh yes, rape often isn’t even treated as a crime. Thousands of women have died from starvation, abuse, murder, malnutrition, or working themselves to death. 

These silenced, abused, downtrodden women are crying out for a voice.

Jasmine essentially a prisoner in a golden cage.

Jafar takes personal pleasure in controlling and silencing Jasmine.

The look of glittering delight in Jafar’s eyes as he forces her to speak vows of marriage to him turned my stomach. I saw that scene in horror, as I can imagine just how many precious women throughout history have found themselves in the same situation. Unlike Jasmine, however, there was no one coming on a magic carpet to give them a way of escape.

This scene was a cry for justice. A cry for the women Jasmine represents who are precious and beautiful, who have amazing things to share with the world. These women who remain unseen, unheard, buried.

jasmine giving a voice

I know I went out of order here, but let’s talk about Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar that happened before her forced almost-marriage.

She is being led away by the guards who were her own servants but a moment before. Her beloved father and handmaiden are unable to help her. She had to silence Rajah (who was glorious) to keep him safe.

In her mind’s eye, she pictures everyone else disappearing, every person who is an obstacle to what she knows is right. She cannot be silent, not this time!

Rather than just swallowing it again, Jasmine makes her stand.

She speaks out in a strong voice. She ignores the degrading words of Jafar and focuses all of her energy on speaking to Hakim, the noble lead guard who truly desires to do what is right.

Jasmine speaks to him personally, she knows his story and she cares about it. She appeals to his integrity and deepest desire to do the right thing. She exposes her deep heart of love and compassion for “my people”. And she gives him an opportunity to change his course of action. At this moment with the information they have, Hakim is a pivotal character for what happens next.

Jasmine sees him, she calls him by name. She knows his story and his heart, which means she has heard him. Jasmine does not speak on her behalf but rather on the behalf of her people, he and his people are her priority. And Jasmine gives him an opportunity to make a different choice, she gives him a chance to be his best self.

Jasmine true, sacrificial leadership.

Jafar may as well be a shadow in the back of the room, all of Jasmine’s focus is on Hakim and the future of Agrabah. She doesn’t attack, she doesn’t tear Hakim down, she builds him up with truth and calls the good man out of him.

It’s a beautiful, powerful, encouraging scene. While it seemed to do little good at the moment, it does truly change everyone’s future as Jasmine unconsciously opens her father’s eyes to her true worth as a strong and virtuous leader for Agrabah.

Scene 4: Aladdin Selflessly Walks Away

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are given opportunities to be heroic in the climax of this movie, but it is called Aladdin for a reason. When it comes down to it, Aladdin is the one who has to defeat Jafar.

Aladdin is not a brawny warrior like Hercules. He’s not a gallant and gorgeously arrayed prince like Phillip or Charming or even Beast once he’s been declawed. Aladdin is very simple and straightforward.

The reason Aladdin became “Prince Ali” and got himself involved in this mess was a noble one, he loved a girl and wanted to win her heart. During that time he has been stripped down to the core of his deepest longings and hurts, and he almost loses focus on who he is because of it.

Aladdin humbled

But here is where the diamond comes out.

Aladdin has the humility to recognize his mistakes and turn them into life experience. He sees the flaw in Jafar’s arrogant plan and manipulates Jafar into a natural course of actions and consequences. Jafar’s own pride and ambition lead him to the prison he chose for himself. #poeticjustice

Aladdin just saved the day. He could reason out that he deserves another wish, a wish that could elevate him in the eyes of the world and especially the eyes of the woman he loves. Instead, he again shows that selfless spirit and keeps his promise to free Genie even though it gains him nothing materially.

Aladdin just saved the royal family, an arrogant “hero” would demand recompense.

He does not. He looks at Jasmine, still loving her as much as the first day he met her, and he apologizes. He looks at everyone with humility and respect and walks away. #thisissosexy #jaladdinforever

As Aladdin walks out of the palace to return to Agrabah’s streets, he looks down at Jasmine’s hair barret with deep tenderness. He loves her and treasures her, and he always will. But because he loves her he is willing to walk away because he believes that is what is best for her.

True love Jaladdin

Jasmine has been treated as a pretty bird in a cage. Not a person.

A mere prize to be won, not a heart to fall in love with.

An obstacle to control or crush (I’m lookin’ at you, Jafar).

A child who must remain hidden for her protection. Not a mature young woman.

It’s all about what someone can get from her, or keep from her, or keep her from.

Jaladdin giving her his best.It was humble, it was peaceful, it was confident. Somehow Aladdin walks out of that gate with his head held high because he now knows his own worth, and he stayed true to his noble heart.

Yeah, I’d run after him too, Jasmine. #substanceoverstyle #diamondintherough #putaringonit #jaladdin

I loved that Jasmine runs to him on the street by herself. No guards, no entourage, no handmaiden or father. She may be the sultan now (a quick line that she uses to tease him) but she truly comes to him as herself. He heard her, he knew her for who she was when no one else did.

It’s humble, it’s normal, it’s sweet. And they have a beautiful kiss among their people, in the streets where they came together, in the streets of the place they both love.jladdin kiss

Jasmine knew her own worth but struggled to be heard. Aladdin doubted his own worth, he struggled to be seen.

 

Jasmine saw Aladdin, and Aladdin heard Jasmine.

And God saw that it was good, people. It was good.

Genie

Holy cow! Y’all, what? Robin Williams created Genie, and no one can ever replace him! Will Smith not only honored the character Williams created but he also didn’t try to replace him, he became his own Genie.

Genie took me by surprise multiple times, while he was not anywhere near as spastic as Robin’s Genie, he was regularly unexpected.

The Genie/Dalia romance was brilliantly used to fill in the story/characters and add a lighter balance to the romance scale. Jaladdin was dealing with heavy-duty issues that held kingdoms in the balance, Denie was talking about goats and boats. We needed both. #denie #jaladdin

DenieI can’t imagine being trapped and forced to do the will of whatever jerk happened to grab your lamp and give it a rub. If you actually consider Genie’s life, it’s pretty horrible.

Genie fell in love with Dalia, and he desired a normal life. He has all the power in the world and yet he’s as much a prisoner as someone in a dungeon. Dalia increased my longing for Genie’s freedom. When Dalia was being pressed down by Jafar’s dark power Genie’s sorrowful face for the woman he loves made my heart hurt. He was helpless to protect her.

This isn’t funny anymore, this is real.

The look of pure shock and deep emotion on Genie’s face when he realizes he is free was a beautiful moment. I loved the hug he gave Aladdin. The hug+his face spoke volumes.

genie and aladdin

I wasn’t overly fond of how the movie began, I felt it had a weak opening, but by the end, I was in love.

I did enjoy the first shot that skimmed over Jafar in the desert, Jasmine in her palace, and the torchlit houses of Agrabah.

But I felt that they rushed through the iconic scene of Aladdin weaving his way through the streets, stealing and smirking aka making a nuisance of himself. And since they made the decision to combine Aladdin’s first introduction with him and Jasmine meeting for the first time, I think they should have given it a less choppy, sped-up rhythm. It was an unnecessary sacrifice that bought them nothing.

I recognize that the filmmakers wanted to flesh out other parts of the story more, and I respect that. I just do not think they made the right call in how to carry that out.

Let’s talk Jafar.

I heard some people complaining that Jafar was too weak. He didn’t look or sound as scary as the animated one.

Ahem…have y’all seen the animated one? The animated Jafar is not anatomically correct. Animated characters are often exaggerated for effect or to bring across a specific message.

So please, drop that argument. This is supposed to look real, this is a real human playing this character.

And Jafar? Jafar was savage. 

Jafar was a perfect villain

Real villains aren’t always weirdly shaped with angry eyebrows and menacing voices. They are often normal-looking people with dark hearts. Jafar was a villain who was all too real, he reminded me of some true villains from history. Jafar was also supposed to be a dark reflection of Aladdin, someone who Aladdin could have been. Jafar even makes the comparison to Aladdin outside of The Cave of Wonders.

Jafar made my blood boil. 10/10 villain status.

This is the first live-action Disney Prince(ess) movie that I feel could actually support a sequel.

I have loved all of the live-action remakes up to this point. But I do not think that all of them need sequels. Cinderella was a very intimate, self-contained story. It was perfect. Beauty and the Beast was a more complicated tale, but it finished itself well at the ending. You feel whole by the end of both films.

While Aladdin also leaves you feeling deeply satisfied, you also have room for more.

REASONS ALADDIN CAN ACTUALLY SUPPORT A SEQUEL

I was utterly delighted in this movie, they got the big things correct and made room for fleshing out the story and characters. They delivered big moments and characters while also filling in a thousand tiny details (magic carpet building a sandcastle, anyone?)

Aladdin is my favorite old prince(ss) movie. I was so excited for this live-action version and I was not disappointed. I am enjoying myself immensely and I cannot wait for more!

a whole new world gif

Disney Live-Action Remakes: Not Losing What We Have, But Becoming More of Who We Are

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

Frozen II

FinnRey Is True, Sacrificial Love

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Jedi: Where No One Had Gone Before

The Last Jedi went into uncharted territory. It scared the crap out of us. It broke the “rules”. It challenged our expectations and cliches. It was bold with the Force. It took our characters and tossed each of them into their worst-case-scenario. It showed broken heroes and villains.

Can I even venture to say?

The Last Jedi was the deepest main saga Star Wars movie to date.

It is not a perfect movie with zero flaws, nor do I say the most beloved. There is something magical about A New Hope. My personal favorite for a long time was The Empire Strikes Back (best time ever), and now TESB is tied with The Force Awakens in my affections.

The most basic piece of writing advice storytellers are given is this…

Find out what your character wants…and then do everything in your power to keep them from getting it.

Harsh, huh? And yet, it’s compelling.

Kylo Ren wants peace.

Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren feels thrown about by his life. He wants to finally feel he is in control of his destiny. The turmoil inside of him is eating it up. He believes he can reach this place of “peace” by resetting the game board and crowning himself king. Control everyone and everything…that’s the answer, right?

Rey wants a sense of belonging and identity.

Rey has felt abandoned her whole life. She’s been waiting for people to make her belong, to give her worth. Now she has this whole new can of worms called The Force and she wants someone older and wiser to guide her in it. Secretly she is hoping that Luke as her mentor can give her that sense of belonging and value.

Leia wants a legacy.

She’s been in this fight since the day of her birth. She has sacrificed everything. Her beloved husband is gone. Her son is now her enemy. Her brother is missing. Her people are few in number and on the run. Will there be anyone to take up the gauntlet and continue this all-important battle for freedom that has been her life’s work?

Poe wants his people to survive.

Poe has natural giftings as a leader. He’s brave, he’s kind, he’s insanely talented. He knows he can make a difference in this fight that he’s grown up in. He’ll give his last drop of blood to ensure that happens.

Finn wants the one person he loves most to be okay.

Finn has found one thing to fight for up to this point: Rey. She’s his primary object and sole focus. Rey has to have somewhere safe to return to.

Luke wants to die alone and bitter. He wants to punish himself for his failure.

At least…that’s what he thinks he wants.

Rose wants her sister’s sacrifice to count for something, and she’s sick of people dying.

She’s lost everything up to this point. She’s done with that.

Hux wants respect.

He gets treated like a buffoon…huh, wonder why that is?

Snoke wants…uh…he wants…control?

Yeah, ahem, Mr. Rian? You kinda left us hanging on that one. Hoping Abrams can fill in the gaps here, Snoke was too big a presence to just disappear from the story after one highly efficient lightsaber stroke.

Vice-Admiral Holdo wants her people to survive.

Huh, sound similar to anyone else we know? How about SHARING SOME INFO UP FRONT WITH YOUR PEOPLE ON THE SAME SIDE??? C’mon, Ellie!

Chewbacca wants a new friend.

*aggressive sobbing*

ptumblr_lthxchgx7g1qzzwmb

BB8 wants to be a part of everything.

Our baby droid is really the only one who gets what he wants from start to finish and has an utterly fantastic time all the way through.

bb8 thumbs up

It was like pulling teeth with pliers for every character to attempt to reach their goal in this movie. It was almost like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day made into a Star Wars film.

Somehow, if it could go wrong, it did go wrong…right until the very end.

Because here is the follow-up piece of writing advice to the one I mentioned previously.

The characters must prevail, and they come out having defeated the obstacle, lie, villain, etc, and have grown in the process.

Let’s start with the heroes. How did they end up?

Rey chose her identity apart from her past or any other person.

rey the last jedi

She wanted a mentor. She wanted a dad. I get that. But people let you down, sometimes you cannot find what you want. What do you do then? You decide. “Who am I going to be regardless of what happens around me?” Rey decided, and she emerged as a shining beacon of new hope and the future for the Jedi.

Leia has a legacy.

leia on crait

We see it in the mentorship she gives her surrogate son Poe. She trains him on how to become a leader that will last. We see it in the determination of new Rebel recruits such as Finn. We see it in the enduring fire of characters like Rose and Holdo. We see it in the gleam in Rey’s eyes as she rejects Kylo Ren’s offer of power and instead chooses freedom. Leia’s life work has not been in vain, the fight will continue.

Poe leads his people to survival.

Yes, there are like 7.5 of them, but…

poe dameron hope

Poe was pushed far beyond his comfort zone, and he rose to the occasion. He’s already got incredible talent but in the end, he was going to lead his people to destruction if he did not learn the wisdom required to lead. He learned, and the future of the Rebels will now be secure.

Finn’s original goal was to make sure Rey was safe. He at first believes that to be his only mission. By the end, he chooses to join the Resistance for his own sake. This does not mean he loves Rey any less, it just means he has finally come into his own.

finn the last jedi

And as a delightful bonus, because Finn chooses to stick with the Resistance despite the “loser” circumstances, he was right where he needed to be to reunite with the person who feels like home to him.

finnrey hug last jedi.gif

Yes, a FinnRey post is totally in works. And no, I will not disclose how many times I have watched this hug. That’s none of your business.

Luke dies…but not the way he thought he wanted to. He instead dies in peace, a legend who has forever changed the galaxy. This is the fulfillment of the original goal he had as a youth who stared off into the sunsets and dreamed of adventures.

luke skywalker the last jedi

It’s poetic, it’s epic. Luke dies, but he is not completing the shallow and self-piteous arc of his elder years. No, instead he completes the much deeper and meaningful arc that we began in A New Hope. We have come full circle. And in all honesty, can we actually say that this giant of the Force is actually gone?

Rose saves the people she loves, making her sister’s sacrifice and everything up to this point worth it.

rose the last jedi

Rose is a simple and straightforward character, but she represents a new attitude for this fight. Surviving to fight another day is just as if not more valuable than sacrifice.  We’ve watched single to entire casts of beloved characters (*coughs* Rogue One) sacrifice themselves for the cause. FYI, I’m still hurting over Caleb Dume.

We admire and respect their sacrifice, and those deaths had their place. But winning is also about life, not just death. Rose represents life.

Ahem, yes, she saved the people she loves. Yeah, I saw that kiss too. That one, tiny little kiss that sent a whole crowd of people like sheep to the slaughter with the belief, “Well, I guess she’s with Finn now?” C’mon, guys, don’t be so gullible. If a single one-sided kiss was enough to seal the deal then half of you would be married to your little crush from kindergarten. More on that in the FinnRey post.

Vice-Admiral Holdo’s people survived. Barely. In spite of her. Really we all almost died but hey, she did that cool lightspeed thing! Plus, I have never seen purple hair look so chic.

holdo the last jedi

Holdo as a character, or rather, the idea and look of Holdo was utterly fascinating. She represented a larger group of people who like Leia, have fully committed themselves to this fight. Supposedly she’s another kind of Force-sensitive character who uses her abilities outside of the Jedi method.

I do not believe her character was done proper justice, she was fascinating in the creation, less effective in the execution. Her character was responsible for the biggest plot holes in the movie, and that’s a crying shame. Still…did I mention that awesome purple hair?

Chewbacca kept his new friend.

chewbacca the last jedi

We were amazed that he was willing to drop his new girl off to meet up with Ben Solo after how splendidly that went the last time, but Chewie is loyal to a fault. He obviously trusted that she could handle it. Chewie is one original character that we can rely on sticking around.

BB8 was a part of EVERYTHING.

Can this droid get any cuter?

Onto the villains.

DJ and Captain Phasma barely get an honorable mention. They got exactly what they signed up for.

DJ’s only purpose was to serve as a darker reflection of what Finn could have become, someone who is only in it for themselves. He was not useless, per se, but he was also not deep.

Phasma had the character arc of a yardstick. She served as a great few seconds of external conflict that made for some really hot Finn fight scenes. *golf clap*. Nice, but nothing to write home about.

Now for the REAL villains.

Hux is still a laughingstock.

hux the last jedi

In true villain form, Hux was thwarted yet again at the moment that should have been his triumph. He’s a rather interesting figure to me, he’s both fanatically frightening and laughably ridiculous all at once. He’s both bold and cowardly. He’s just weak enough to be dangerous and I think Kylo Ren is wrong to underestimate him. Hux’s defeat in this movie is going to make him even more dangerous in Episode 9. 

Snoke is dead. So, there’s that.

snoke the last jedi

Unexpected, cool, and also disappointing? Snoke was too malevolent and overpowering to just be forgotten. We need more information on what his bigger picture was. At the same time, he’s dead, so any agenda he may have had is in pieces. Literally.

I saved the most intriguing for the last…Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo.

kylo ren the last jedi

Like the heroes of this movie, Kylo Ren gets exactly what he wants…control. And yet, he ends the movie more desperate and villainous than he began it. Why?

What Kylo/Ben actually wants deep down inside is peace. Peace cannot be gained through murder and control, that only creates more chaos. Kylo’s blazing path of bloodshed and fury have not given him what he thought they would. Instead, he is left angrier and emptier than before. He’s a classic case of trying to achieve what you want/need the wrong way. This approach always leaves you in a worse situation than you began.

The Last Jedi went deep on multiple characters. It took our oh-so-familiar Star Wars moments such as the Darth Vader redemption scene and added a new twist to them. What if Vader kills his master but then decides to take control for himself?

We ended this movie where our heroes had nothing more than a hunk-of-junk and a smile to their names, and yet they felt that they had won while their enemies were left licking their wounds. Why?

Not all victories begin physically, the battle between good and evil is a battle of mindsets, ideals, and endurance. Our Rebels are winning this war, and the First Order knows it.

The Resistance is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.

I truly value the previous main saga movies that have led us to this point, but Rian gave us a fresh perspective on an age-old battle. He highlighted characters outside of just “the big three” and somehow managed to leave us full of hope after a dreadful day. While there are glaring mistakes in this film, I am also amazed by all he accomplished.

Our heroes went through the fire and emerged as legends. Our villains went through the fire, some of them burned, and some of them now burn with a vengeance. The stage is set for an epic conclusion to this saga.

the last jedi poster

More in-depth on aspects of this film coming soon!

Other articles you may like…

Avengers Endgame: Steve’s Past, Or His Future

Solo: A Star Wars Story

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

 

 

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

*Major Spoilers ahead*

Fellow Dragon Riders…that was utterly magnificent.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. The animation was breathtaking, the music reached my soul, and the characters. Our precious, beautiful, real characters.

I was shocked by how deep this beautiful story was.

The Hidden World somehow managed to teach us about the 2 sides of love. Letting go…and committing. 

Commitment…

Hiccup has chosen to commit to holding on to Toothless over and over again. He’s fought against his natural instincts, his culture, and even the death of his own father in order to stay true to his best friend. He changed his culture to make room for Toothless. And Toothless has returned the favor every time. He’s saved Hiccup from death and even reordered the entire dragon social structure (his culture) by challenging the alpha in order to protect his best friend.

hiccup and toothless challenge the alpha.gif

Letting Go…

When Toothless discovered the new love of his life, the Light Fury, Hiccup let him go for the evening to be with her, a first for them. The truth is, he did not know the full meaning of this choice. If he could see into the future he may not have been brave enough to let Toothless go. How true to life that is, sometimes we open the door for these massive and often upsetting life changes without even realizing what we are getting into. Hiccup was opening the door to let his best friend and ally go, but he did it because he loves him.

The Hidden World showed the need that arises sometimes to let those we love go in order to reach their full potential and thrive. But at the same time, with Hiccup and Astrid’s love story, it showed us the value and need to commit.

hiccstrid

Hiccup and Astrid have been an incredible pairing since their first flight together. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully. It’s clear that they make a mighty leadership team.

Up to this point, they have remained merely a boyfriend and girlfriend. And that was enough for the context of that time. But today is a new day.

Hiccup has been a chief for a year, and it’s clear that he’s still very green in this position. He’s doing his absolute best, but he’s literally flying by the seat of his pantsYet another new threat emerges, and Hiccup reacts. He must protect his own people, but he is also torn because he feels the need to protect the dragons as well.

Astrid is still operating as an encouraging and playful girlfriend. She’ll tease him, give him a good kiss, and then fly off into the sunset again. She supports him in public sometimes, but she does so sitting down. I am speaking literally, watch the movie again.

We aren’t ready for marriage.

astrid and hiccup, the hidden world

I love the role of the mentors in this movie. Gober is not always to be taken seriously, but his comments to Hiccup and Astrid about the need for them to commit to each other so that they may lead their people with strength are words of wisdom.

hiccup and his mother

Valka’s words of wisdom blew me away.

He thinks he has to lead alone just because his father did.

Valka looks to Astrid, who is still hanging back while she watches Hiccup in emotional agony, struggling with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Go, he’ll listen to you.

In the darling flashbacks with tiny Hiccup and his father, we see that there was more to Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship than just the dysfunction we were introduced into in the first film. Stoick was a kind and tender father who was doing his utmost to lead his people and make the world safe for his beloved son.

stoick and little hiccup

And Stoick bore it alone. The scene of Hiccup walking down the stairs at night to find his mighty and strong father crying by the fire was so important.

Stoick did not have his queen. He did not have his better half, his light, his partner. He needed Valka. What might have happened if Valka had stayed? It’s possible she could have changed the culture before Hiccup ever had to. It’s possible Stoick and Hiccup may have never fallen out of understanding with each other. Stoick would likely even still be alive.

Valka knows all of this now. She now knows the weight and value of the position and place she gave up at Stoick’s side. She has the humility to accept her failure in that regard, but rather than sinking into the shame of that failure, she instead uses it to teach Astrid (the new generation) how to live better.

hiccstrid hidden world

Valka shows Astrid the value and honor of her position at Hiccup’s side. She makes Astrid aware that the need to commit fully to Hiccup isn’t just a future joy, it’s a necessity for Hiccup, for Astrid, and for the future of their people.

Hiccup cannot do this alone. And so Astrid takes up the challenge. She soothes his hurting heart, gives him encouragement, fights at his side, and puts everything that is overwhelming him into perspective. She shows him how to fly on his own two feet…thus replacing Toothless as the most important person in Hiccup’s world. 

toothless and light fury

There were so many mirrored moments from the first HTTYD movie in Hidden World. When Toothless has his first meeting of romance with the Light Fury, I was heavily reminded of the first scene where Toothless and Hiccup bonded.

Taming Toothless

This concept of discovering each other. Toothless regurgitates the fish that Hiccup brought him as a peace offering to share with his strange, two-legged friend. Toothless coaches Hiccup in what he wants him to do. Hiccup barely gets the fish down and then gives a large smile…that Toothless then attempts to copy.

smiling toothless

And my favorite, Hiccup draws his new friend. And Toothless copies.

In this scene, Hiccup teaches Toothless to be a personToothless is already deeply curious, intelligent, and noble. But the more time he spends as a part of Hiccup’s world the more person-like he is.

Enter, the Light Fury. She is beauty and grace itself, and she is all dragon.

Toothless has spent so much time with Hiccup that he is a bit lost on the traditional dance of the Furies and what he must do to impress his new lady love. He continues to look to his human friend for guidance, for just like Hiccup, Toothless has yet to learn to fly on his own.

Every scene with the Light Fury was so, instinctive. It was quiet, and yet it spoke volumes. This beautiful girl taught Toothless how to be a dragon again…and like Astrid for Hiccup, she replaces Hiccup as the most important person in Toothless’s life.

toothless and his queen

When Hiccup goes looking for his friend in the hidden world he finds Toothless seated as king of the dragons. He is comfortable, regal, at home. The look on Hiccup’s face is utter devastation. But it’s not just the crushing realization that he is going to have to lose his best friend, he is also overwhelmed with inadequacy.

He does not know how to be what his people need without Toothless. They have always relied on each other to fly. Toothless changed everything for him. Now he is beset on every front with enemies, questions, and problems, and his friend has found his place in the world apart from Hiccup.

Hiccup feels so small.

Whew. Did anyone else take that moment in the gut? This entire movie I was nodding my head. YES! Oh yes, I have felt this in my soul. I know what he feels.

The true conflict in this movie did not revolve around the villain, he merely put a face to a much bigger problem that brought the true struggle into the light. Hiccup and Toothless can no longer thrive together in the way they have up to this point. In order to truly grow, they must go their separate ways.

grimmel

Grimmel represented the problem that was going to continue to plague Hiccup and Toothless. Evil people coming after the dragons, and by extension, the Berkians. As chief of his people, Hiccup could not in good conscience keep endangering them. As alpha of the dragons, Toothless had to protect his people.

True leadership is not about control, it is more often about sacrifice and servanthood. Both Hiccup and Toothless had to give up being together as friends in order to do what was best for their own people, and for each other.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. The five-year-old child sitting 3 seats away from me in the theater was sobbing and I started tearing up on her behalf. I know, Baby. I KNOW! This hurts! This growing, changing, letting go, it hurts.

And yet…

Hiccup came into his own. His new partner, his lifelong partner, Astrid, stepped in beside him and gave him the courage to fly on his own. And he did. And he won.

hiccup flying on his own

Toothless and he fought together to save each other and their people. And then they said goodbye.

Another beautiful mirrored scene. When Hiccup awoke from the victory of his first battle where he and Toothless fought The Green Death, he was walking wounded. He was missing a leg. This represents his need for support. He almost falls to the ground when Toothless jumps in and holds him up. They have held each other up for years.

hiccup holding onto toothless

This time Hiccup is down a leg his new support steps in to hold him up, Astrid. She is his future.

astrid ive got you

Oh the symbolism. I love it!

hiccup saying goodbye

It hurts, but it is also so beautiful. It is so real. This is what love does. Love commits, love lets go. Love commits to doing what is best for the other one, and sometimes that means letting go.

Hiccup let go. His people were safe. He marries the love of his life and you know they will lead their people into a glorious future. He becomes a father, a tender, loving father by the looks of it. And he never stops being Toothless’ friend. I so deeply enjoyed the intimate scene at the end where Hiccup and Astrid take their children to go meet the dragons. We end on all of our favorite people (and dragons) flying together in the future they all fought to win.

I ended this movie with hope and joy. Yes, there is sadness, but there is also joy. So much joy. What a gift. What a gift.

I hope you enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Even if it hurt, I hope your heart was ministered to as well. There is so much truth and life to be gleaned here. I feel very blessed.

And yes…there are dragons.

How to Train Your Dragon: What Hiccup and Toothless Mean to Me

Netflix: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Frozen II

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

There have been mixed reactions since Disney announced their intention to create an exclusively Disney streaming service that will be available in 2019.

As more and more news has come out regarding the service, the conversation has heated up.

I’ve spent months thinking about the pros and cons of this service, how it is going to affect media in general. I have come to one conclusion…

…this Disney streaming service is a good good thing.

Here’s why.

Why Disney’s Streaming Service is Good for the Consumer

During a discussion on this very topic, someone brought up a very real point regarding the multitude of streaming options available. Yeah, I know I’ve felt like I am straddling so many different services it’s becoming obnoxious. The desire to find everything in one location (like shopping at Wal-Mart once rather than 5 different specialty grocery stores) is deeply appealing.

However…streaming services are not like grocery stores, they are more like the fast food of the visual storytelling world. They are fast and immediate.

I could spend fifteen minutes just listing the number of fast food options we have available in this country. Some are nationwide, like McDonalds, and some are more localized. Dear Folks, do give Braums a try if you are ever in the Lower Midwest.

That many options can be overwhelming, wouldn’t it be simpler to just have one?

Maybe. Would it be better? NOPE!

Ask any person in a one-stoplight town that has ONE McDonalds. They will give you a resounding NO.

nope kermit

 

One restaurant means the same food all the time. Occasionally there may be a new menu item added, but that’s rare. No guarantees on the quality of food or service, after all, there is no competition for our One Restaurant to force it to be its best in order to stay in business. Food, service, prices, bathroom cleanliness, our One Restaurant dictates these things because due to the law of scarcity, they can! They know we have nowhere else to go, they are our One Option if we want to eat out.

However, suppose we added five other restaurants to the mix? What happens?

competition minion.gif

Now our One Restaurant is one of Many restaurants, we have other options, now they have to step up their game and compete, or go out of business.

Think about the deals we have available right now in fast food. Wendy’s 4 for 4. A McDonald’s $1, $2, and $3 menu. Taco Bell has a pretty dang tasty $1 menu. And on, and on, and on.

So much variety and constant change that is to our (the consumer)’s benefit.

Competition.

You may not have realized it, but I just described capitalism to you. Capitalism gets spread around the media like it’s a dirty word, and socialism is the “cool” thing that makes life better for everyone!

Wrong. Most people don’t actually understand capitalism or socialism. You love getting a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, fresh flowers from the farmer’s market, a toothbrush from Wal-Mart,  and a hand-knit wool hat from Etsy? Cool! Thank Capitalism!

Capitalism is not all about trampling everyone underfoot in a mad scramble for the top spot. Capitalism that is done right can create freedom, opportunity, options, and competing in a way that holds each business accountable. The ultimate judge and jury for said businesses? Us, the consumers.

I don’t know about you, but I really like options. Sure, if I decide to eat at Fazolis, I can’t eat at Taco Bell. We do eventually have to choose one thing or another. But that’s okay, I make the choices I want for my life. And I appreciate the ability to choose.

What does this have to do with Disney’s streaming service? Lemme tell ya…

…Disney just majorly upped the ante…and we as consumers are going to benefit.

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Netflix is gonna have to up their game. I know they are trying. Lost in Spacis a work of beautiful storytelling and art that I applaud from the highest mountain. They just signed a deal to create a Narnia series, another decision that I am incredibly excited about. Netflix has its claims to fame with Stranger Things, but that’s not gonna be enough anymore, and I am interested to see how Netflix decides to combat this new challenge.

Amazon is a fierce competitor. This online giant has more than just a streaming service in its empire, Amazon has a little bit of everything, and they are getting bigger by the day.

*Sidenote, just so that you can become aware, I am starting to suspect that Disney and Amazon are secretly working towards world domination, and one day this battle will come to a head. Choose wisely, Citizens, will you be a Prime Member or belong to the Micky Mouse Clubhouse? Sides must be chosen. Choose wisely.

We all know Disney is giving their streaming service the red-carpet treatment. They are intent upon taking every wish we have made upon a star and making it come true. And while I have a love/hate relationship with Disney, I have to honestly say, they usually deliver.

Yes, some of these streaming services/shows that exist are going to die. We are going to take some hits. Daredevil and it’s fellow Marvel shows are early casualties. I can understand why those shows will no longer be continuing from a business perspective, but I can also understand the grief from fans. I’m sorry you feel disappointed, folks. I know how that feels. *coughs, AGENT CARTER! 

In the end, however, we as consumers will reap the benefits. Every streaming service with its own content is going to have to do their absolute best to compete with Disney, which means better content with higher quality.

Now, onto the really fun part.

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Why Disney’s Streaming Service Is Good for the Fan

Loki.

Scarlet Witch and The Vision.

The Mandalorian.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Live Action Lady and the Tramp.

CASSIAN ANDOR!

 

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I am looking at a whole new world right now, ladies and gentlemen. A world made possible by streaming services.

I am never going to stop going to the movie theater to enjoy movies on the big screen. I do not go to the theater because it is convenient, no, I go because I value the experience so highly. Millions of other movie fans do as well, therefore I have no fear that we will lose our movie theaters into the black hole of streaming services.

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Putting a movie into the theaters is more complicated than you may realize, however. It costs tons of money, and you have to not just make that money back, you have to make a large profit for that movie to be considered a success. Next, you have Blu-ray and digital sales, and then your film ends up on streaming services.

It’s a tough world, which means that film studios really have to be choosy about what they put their time and money into for the theaters and television. Despite the number of amazing characters and stories that we as fans love and want to see told, we are only given a few at a time because they HAVE to be picky. Which means that large groups of minority fans are left disappointed.

Enter, the Disney Streaming Service.

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Loki Odinson has delighted viewers since 2011. He’s a complex character, one moment the villain, the next, an antihero? He’s fast, his motives blurry, his emotions unpredictable. But what is predictable is the love of his fans for this character. A large minority of Marvel fans have been begging for a Loki film for years, but in the grand scheme of the Marvel storyline and budget, it just hasn’t made sense. Until now…

Loki is getting his own miniseries. Given how complex his character is, a miniseries is a far better format for his story than a film would be. Miniseries have the option of telling a story more slowly and going into greater personal depth than movies do. It’s just the type of storytelling the god of mischief deserves.

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Scarlet Witch and The Vision are all about exploring what it means to be human. They are complex enough characters on their own, and together? Even more so. They have not been given the amount of time required to really dig deeply into the wealth their characters’ have to offer. Not to mention these characters are not big enough mainstream favorites for a full theater release to be profitable. But a miniseries? Perfect!

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The moment I saw Captian Cassian Andor my brain was on fire (yes, the man is gorgeous). But what truly got me electrified was the story he represents. It’s the untold story of the darker side of the Rebellion. A dark, painful, morally complicated side. A whole realm of questions and potential we have never seen before. We had no time for side trips in Rogue One, it was such a beautiful and focused movie that was precisely what it should have been. But at the end, my heart didn’t just ache for what we had lost, my heart ached over the stories that had been briefly introduced that I felt we had lost. Stories that I was desperate to discover. And now, I can.

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The Mandalorian. I’ve watched 6 Seasons of Clone Wars and 4 Seasons of Star Wars Rebels. Mandalorians are the kinds of characters that take up all the oxygen in a room. They need to be explored. I love how Star Wars films/series have recently started exploring more characters beyond just the high profile heroes and villains. It’s a fascinating world, let us explore it more!

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I am constantly saying that Sam Wilson never gets the credit or time he deserves. He’s just the greatest guy ever and I am so thrilled to finally get to see more of him. And we can all agree that there is a big question mark hanging over Bucky Barnes’ life. It’s about time.

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My other big hope for this streaming service is that we will have resurrected series/films. Star Wars fans fell off of their tauntauns when we discovered that our beloved Clone Wars series (which ended horribly) was being renewed for a proper send off. Dreams really do come true!

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My personal request is that shows like Agent Carter and Girl Meets World who ended FAR TOO SOON would be next up on the renewal docket. These shows had strong enough fanbases and quality storytelling to make said endeavors worthwhile. But we shall see.

Don’t you all understand? The possibilities available to us? The potential? We may actually get a National Treasure 3 out of this service! It would flop in theaters but on the service?

And the best part yet, the monthly cost for this magical service is supposed to be less than Netflix.

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In conclusion, Disney is moving into the 21st Century with style. And we, the consumers and fans are going to reap the benefits.

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I can’t wait. How about you?

 

Disney Live-Action Remakes: Not Losing What We Have, But Becoming More of Who We Are

Since Disney began making their live-action remakes, there have been some rather disgruntled folks among us. Funny how something that to me says, “best day ever” is such a thing of negativity to others.

…but everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. This is a free country after all, and that needs to be the top thing we remember when in the discussion.

Still, it is my opinion, that the people who claim that Disney is ruining their childhood need to lighten up. 

And here’s why.

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A friend of mine expressed her opinion on the same subject. It’s an awesome blog post, please check it out if you are also a fan of these live-action remakes. And if you are not, maybe it will show you the perspective of someone on the other side.

Like my friend says in her blog post, I also did not grow up with this magical Disney childhood that so many other 90s kids did. I was not raised on princesses, Robin Hood, or Mickey Mouse.

I actually grew up on PBS, cowboy movies, animal/nature documentaries, and Veggie Tales.

But, I did watch The Jungle Book. That was MY Disney movie. Maybe that’s why I love jungles so much. And animals. I’m actually far fonder of the wild Disney movies like The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Tarzan. Don’t ask how many times I have seen Tarzan because I have lost count by now. I never tire of that movie and I would absolutely adore it if Disney would do a live-action, musical version of that film. It’s gorgeous.

As I said above, The Jungle Book was my Disney movie. My older brother and I used to dance around the house singing “The Bare Necessities”. Bagheera was my favorite. He is the unsung hero of that story, the panther who doesn’t get to be the “cool parent” but has kept Mowgli alive and loves him like his own child. It always seemed unfair to me as a kid that Bagheera was made to look like such a drag while Baloo got to play and get all the accolades. I’m pretty sure that’s where I fell in love with panthers and jaguars as well.

When I heard they were making a live-action The Jungle Book this was my reaction.

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Are you serious??? I GET TO RELIVE SUCH A PRECIOUS PART OF MY CHILDHOOD IN A WHOLE NEW WAY!!!

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I took my baby sister to the movie for her 10th birthday.

We were utterly enthralled.

I expected it to be good, but I never expected to love it even more than the animated one! It was so rich, deep, and meaningful!

It took the story I had loved as a kid and made it human. 3-D. What was once a cardboard cutout was now a walking, breathing story!

I had never considered how tough it must have been for Mowgli to reconcile who and what he was when growing up with a family that was so different. I wonder if there are adopted children out there who were actually ministered to by watching this movie.

“Yes! Someone got it right! That’s how I have felt my whole life!”

Bagheera was so beautiful, his deep care and love for Mowgli were given a place of honor and respect. Baloo was perfectly obnoxious, just as he should be. Shere Khan was freakin’ terrifying! I did not see Akeeva’s death coming, but it scared me! I felt like we had crossed a line or something and I didn’t know who was going to buy it next!

The world was so rich. It was beautiful, layered, complex and yet straightforward. They created actual cultures for these animals that mingled with nature. King Louis was also terrifying. My mom instincts were kind of firing this entire movie as I watched this beautiful, brown-eyed boy (I’m a total succor for little boys with big brown eyes) battle for his life.

The music I had so loved in my childhood movie was woven in delicately to a story that had taken on so much more life. Mowgli as a character showed true growth, maturity, and bravery, and his growth changed the entire world around him.

It. Was. Glorious.

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It was my movie, but this was my movie 2.0.

*I actually love this one MORE than I love my animated one. I can be talked into watching this movie at the drop of a hat. You name it, and I’m there!

Which brings me to my point…

These live action remakes are not about stealing the joy and identity we had in our childhood, they are about taking it to the next level. We are NOT losing what we had, but rather becoming more of who we are!

When I was 5, I was me. I liked variety, art, playing pretend, and movies.

Guess what, at 22, I’m still me, I’m just a deeper me. I’ve got more layers, a larger story, more colors fill my past, more emotions, more experience. I love variety, art, playing pretend (in my imagination) and movies. I also love relationships, people, running my own business, the world, and history. I’m me, but me 2.0.

Don’t you see? These live-action films are not stealing something away, they are giving us a greater gift! We loved these movies in our childhoods because they ignited our imaginations, they gave us courage, life lessons, dreams, they taught us to wonder!

Oh, how the world needs more of those things! We need some of that magic, we need some of that courage, we need to remember how to wonder!

Maleficent showed us there are two sides to every story. It taught us about love in a new way.

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Cinderella showed me why Ella had such courage, and it showed me WHY Prince Charming was worthy of that title. I’m glad to know because I’m looking for my own Prince Charming, so that’s useful information. It also taught me about forgiveness. Whew, that’s deep!

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The Jungle Book is the struggle of a boy reconciling with an animals’ world. Where does he fit into it? How does he become a man without destroying what he loves? And so he actually becomes a man! 

Beauty and The Beast. Why is Belle so different? Does she ever feel different? What is the town’s problem with her? Why did some enchantress sic a curse on a kid? How are the servants so dadgum cheerful all the time when their impending doom is upon them? The truth is, yeah, Belle IS different and she really feels it. She’s lonely. She’s aching over a mother she never knew. The Beast was a grown man who was capable of making better decisions, so, that’s a relief. The truth is the servants have beautifully hopeful hearts, but there is grief, oh! Such deep, deep grief over what they have lost and what they stand to lose.

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Beauty and The Beast gave me the gift of grief, which made the discovery of joy that much more beautiful.

What a gift. What a gift. To be reminded of who we are, but also to be given more. We are older now, hopefully, wiser, and we have room for even bigger lessons to fit into our hearts.

I have yet to see Christopher Robin, but as a child who grew up on Winnie the Pooh I know I’m going to love it. The gift Pooh and his friends gave us was the gift of valuing the things and people that really matter. The little things, the simple, extraordinary, earth-moving things. And Pooh gave us the gift of wonder.

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Dumbo is going to be beautiful. It’s going to teach us to fight for what we love. To see value in people that others have cast aside.

Aladdin is going to thrill my soul. It’s going to show the struggle of a boy who has been nothing his whole life rising to the occasion to build a life for himself and for a woman he loves and cherishes. It’s going to show a young woman who is in a strategic place of influence but is also trapped by tradition and expectations, and she has to navigate the situation in a way that takes care of everyone she is responsible for.

I teared up when I saw The Lion King trailer. That story is timeless and applicable to everyone. Our place and purpose in this world matters. We cannot let evil drive us away from that.

Mulan is going to be a dramatic story about a woman fighting a life and death struggle for her nation, and doing it with a threat of death hanging over her own head. Talk about inspiring!

My friends, my dear friends. Unclench your hands, and open your hearts!

It’s fine if you want to love the animated ones more. This is a free country, you can like and dislike what you want. I may see one of these live-action films someday and think, “Nope, that wasn’t my cup of tea.” I am not making a law for myself that I MUST love each one of these stories more than the original.

But consider what is being presented to us. Consider the fact that Disney GAVE us these stories in the first place, they know how precious they are to their fans.

So enjoy your animated movies, enjoy the heck out of them! Share them with your kids, build precious memories! But don’t walk around feeling robbed and angry, embrace the time we are in now!

That is my opinion. Disney is giving us more than just the bare necessities, they are giving us a whole new world.

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Disney Live Action: Treasure Planet